Well it all started after I attempted to steal an ornate dagger from Him and while we all know how that played out, what You didn’t know was that same dagger was received from a Barbarian Monk named Baltog, whom while fighting in the arena of the Labrynthian Isles taught Terios of the ways of Kord, and in his death gave Terios the means to Escape his life as a gladiator and allow him to channel his rage into a indominatable force for the glory of Kord. Needless to say I was moved by the story and felt compelled to help him find the answers he sought.
The dagger was emblazoned with the symbol of Kord on the hilt, and while ornately designed it was fairly unremarkable. Having spent time with the devout Monks of the Thunderpeak Monastery in the province of Highdale, theirs was the most complete teachings of Kord in which I had come across in all my years, so I suggested it be best for us to start there.
The trip was long, and quite difficult and while I was much better prepared for the elements this time around it was still a very difficult journey. 9 months had past since we decided to set out for the monastery and finally we crossed into the lands of my childhood. A calm came over me as I reflected on the many journeys that have now lead me back here. At the base of a sheer mountain, cliff hidden in plain sight, lay the treacherous goat pass, known only to those who have traversed it prior. As we began assending the trail I noticed the Mantra of Kord etched into the rock.
“Thunder echoes across the countryside. Threatening dark clouds tumble down from the frozen north. Rain lashes the shores, while reavers on dragon-prow ships scour the seas, searching for glory, battle, and plunder. Smoke and death drifts on the wind, carrying with them the sounds of clashing steel and death cries from the fallen. And in all these things is Kord— he who is named Storm Father, Lord of Battle, and Warmaster.”
Before assending the steep slopes I paused to say a prayer at the epitaph, and then we began the dangerous trek to the summit. The howling of the wind and the bitter cold pummeled us as we climbed. We traveled until darkness fell and without a safe haven in site, we made camp and rested until morning.
As dawn broke and we continued our climb we came to a crossroads in the Rocky pass. Before us stood 4 separate paths. My last trip through the pass I took the center, however the howling of the wind and the bitter cold made it a dangerous path. The others snaked around the rocks and disappeared into the snow. Terios and I decided to leave the decision to Kord. He then produced a 4 sided object from his pack, rolled it and chose the path that was originally attributed which coincedentally was also the same path I had taken, apparently the gods do have a sense of humor.
Unlike my last trip, the wind calmed and the bitter cold subsided and the howl of wolves could now be heard in the distance. As we continued down the goat pass we came to another outcropping of stone walls. These much shorter then the dividing walls which tower over 60 feet, there were 3 platforms all standing about 20 feet high.
At the base of the closest one was a large pool of blood, and while the blood pool was too large for any man to survive there was not a single sign of a body, whatever caused this pool didnt leave anyrhing behind. I launched myself off of Terios’s shoulder and onto the outcropping to get a better vantage point. As I pulled myself up I immediately noticed a huge mass of fluffy white fur. The beast while curled up in the snow, was still nearly my height if not taller. Terios called up, and I immediately shh’d him. I tossed a rope down and attempted to stab a dagger into the ice. However it did not take. So I slowly lowered myself down the otherside and braced for him to climb but as we began climbing our rope began slipping toward the lowered point seeing as this was also unsuccessful we both lowered ourselves down and snuck around to the back of the ice shelf.
The shelf lowered to a scalable 5 foot ledge however Terios and I could hear the wolves howls getting louder, so we attempted to climb up the shelf and silently take out the beast so that we could defend the higher position. As we crept up Terios lifted his axe and as he cleaved down on the dire wolfs chest I pierced my blade through a soft gushy spot behind the ear and into the beast brain. As its body fell limp the wolf let out a. Weak yelp, however for a direwolf, I weak yelp is like a War trumpet. And as it expired a pack of seven wolves funneled into the pass. They All looked to the location of the call and howled and As they did, from the two other ice shelves, arose two more direwolves.
Feeling our attack may have just rung the dinner bell, Terios and I prepared for battle. One of the direwolves jumped down to the ground while the other leaped across the gap and was now standing over its dead kin. Focusing our attack on the immediate threat, Terios lifted his axe and brought it down in a cleaving motion on the beasts back. The cracking of ribs could be heard as the direwolf flinched in pain. As the beast recoiled I slipped past it and buried my short blade deeper within the wound and openned the beasts chest cavity further. It howled in response and two wolves rushed to its aid one diving at Terios knocking him from the platform the other flanking me nearly biting my hand off.
As Terios landed on his back the wolves began surrounding him snapping their jaws waiting for the cue to strike. As he rose to his feet he cleaved nmn at the direwolf grazing his shoulder. From where I stood see that his situation was dire. So in an attempt to draw some attention, I swung for the wolf I front of me and as I missed I leapt down to the ground below. One wolf noticed and started to approach. He swiped at me with its claw but missed, and soon after down came the direwolf and the other wolf with /it. I dodged out of the way as the other wolf’s fangs searched for my flesh. But was unable to avoid the giant paw of the direwolf as it swatted me back. Staggering back as I could feel the blood soak the underside of my armor I knew I was in no position to assist Terios, so I struck out at the huge wolf, slashing it across the snout dazing it. And then I leapt back up the wall using the techniques I learned while with the monks. While unable to get to the very top, I was able to grasp the lip of the ice face.
As I looked toward Terios I could see him take another swipe at the direwolf with his axe but thvis time the wolf grabbed the great axe ripped it from his hand and hurled it away, in advertently killing another wolf. I called out for him to use the dagger of Kord, and as he unsheathed the dagger the symbol of Kord was glowing bright white, laying his life in the hands of his god Terios thrust the dagger into the face of the direwolf and in a flash of bright light an explosion of lightning erupted from the contact followed by a deafening boom, that sent the wolves flying back and the dire wolf into an ice wall at the edge of the cliffs. I pulled myself to the ledge and watched in awe as Terios approached the smoking carcass of the direwolf and with a might roar heaved it over the side. As the remaining wolves began to gather and regroup Terios returned to his axe and hefted it up out of its meaty resting place. I took that moment to gather my strength and press the attack as 2 of the remaining wolves leapt for the platform I was on, their claws finding purchase as they dangled from the ledge I thruster my blade through the face of one of the wolves as it crashed to the ground in a bloody scaleless heap. The other clawed his way to the platform and attempted to bite narrowly missing my leg. I responded by burying my blade into its neck. As it fell lifeless, I looked to Terios who was now dispatching the last of the wolves and moving in on the badly bleeding direwolf. As he brought his axe down in a mighty blow, striking the beast it howled in pain. Seeing my chance to strike I leapt into the air and dropped kicked the wolf knocking it to its back killing It.
Bleeding and broken we made camp and rested the night, I slept while Terios took his time skinning the hides of the remaining dire wolves, he does that a lot. After an uncomfortable sleep and a cold breakfast we packed away our bedrolls and continued our way up the mountain. The rest of the climb was as difficult as it was dangerous. Terios would have fallen to his death had I not grabbed his horn and pulled him back to the wall. Alas we made it to the top and as we pulled ourselves over the ledge there in front of us on the stone steps stood a hulking Goliath Monk of Kord dressed in full battle Gear, guarding the pass. As we approached he was instantly interested in the dagger that rested on Terios’ waist. While he looked menacing there was something familiar about his demeanor, remembering my time there, I bowed my head in reverence. The Goliath returned the bow, Terios did the same and received the same in return. At that the Monk turned and began ascending the steps, We silently followed behind as he led us into the monastery.
As the Goliath pushed open the huge stone door we were led to a communal dinner chamber where the monks of the order were sitting down to eat. As I peered around the room, I noticed some old faces along with a few new ones. While all were adorned with leather armor embroidered with the symbol of Kord only one stood out amongst the rest. An elf, seated at the End of the table stood out like a sore thumb, while all the others were shaved completely hairless, as was custom when they took their vows of silence, this elf had a full head of flowing hair black as night, tied up in the back to expose his pointed ears. He eyed us as the Goliath ushered us to a few empty seats across from the elf. As we sat I noticed the gaze of the elf trained on me. From the moment I saw him I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach about him. The Goliath returned with 2 bowls of Thunderpeak monasteries finest stew (comprised mainly of potatoes and goat meat). I remained silent as I studied the elf across from us. I would have been happy with eating my stew and going about my business, but Terios, he had to talk. As we ate Terios asked the elf why he had not yet shaved his head like all the other members, whether he was just passing through or was residing within the monastery for an extended engagement. The elf told us how he was comming up on his 2nd year at the monastery and how he was waiting for someone. I sensed almost immediately that this elf was not all that he seemed but I remained silent only speaking when spoken to. We talked of the food and how a few locally growing plants can change the flavor entirely. The elf inquired about us and our pilgrimage, Terios lied and told him his name was “kurse”, to this day I still know not why. Then his attention was switched to me. I knew he was fishing for something so I cast out a few lines of my own. Telling Him 3 and a half years ago I came here after a Warrior Priest of Kord saved me from drowning when the ship I was working on went down in a storm. While I was unsure of whether or not he bought my tale he seemed amused by my telling of it. Moments later he finished his stew and took his leave. Before he left I asked him what he did before comming to the temple. He turned and walked away with out answering, then before he completely disappeared from view he turned and said “I bounced around from here to there, but such is the life of a Civilian.” And with that he was gone from view. My gut was right, I knew that I was the one he waited for. Terios leaned in with a concerned look and asked what he meant, I glanced over and responded with, “not here”. We proceeded to finish our meals and were then escorted to our room, as it was late and we were weary from the trip. As we arrived at the humble lodgings the Goliath nodded as he closed the door behind us. As the latch clicked I rushed to the door to listen as the sounds of heavy footsteps trailed away from the room. I then began thuroughly investigating the room to ensure nobody was around and listening. Concerned Terios turned to me and asked what I had gotten us I to. To which I had replayed that I was the one the elf was searching for. I the. Proceeded to tell him of the Civilians and how I fled in the night because I was assigned a task I was not prepared to carry out. I urged Terios to tread lightly as the elf could be round any turn. We then took turns sleeping while the other stood guard. As I awoke from my rest in the early morning I could see Terios sitting by the Door sharpening his great axe. We then collected our things and headed for the library. We snuck quietly down the hall and entered the great library. As we peered around the room wondering where to start, there was a muffling of footsteps and the Goliath stepped out from around a bookshelf. He motioned for Terios to sit and as they sat he motioned for the dagger. Terios handed over the dagger, the monk inspected it carefully then After pondering a moment motioned for Terios to close his eyes and bow his head. As Terios did the monk laid his hand on Terios’ horn and forced plunged the dagger into his chest. Unsure of what I had just witnessed I sat there slackjawed and unsure of my next move. Now the blade was about 3 quarters deep I noticed the Terios didn’t so much as flinch as if the monk was merely pressing his finger to his chest. By this time the blade was submerged to the hilt and yet the monk was still pushing. Moments later the blade completely disappeared into Terios’ hide leaving not wound but a small symbol of Kord in the place of the wound. Not understanding the whole ritual I just stood back and watched. As Terios openned his eyes the the monk pointed to his head, then to his heart as if to say to surpress the beast within and allow Kord to guide your path. He then rose to his feet and exited the room motioning for us to follow.
He lead us out to the training grounds, to an arena, reminding Terios of the arena in the Labrynthian Isles that He had spent his life escaping. However unlike the rest of the monastery this room had an open ceiling exposing its combatants to the elements and putting them on a pedestal for Kord to judge for himself. The monk motioned for Terios to join him in the center while I remained off to the side to watch. Man was it a hard thing to watch. I watched as Terios attempted every trick he had learned while as a gladiator In the arena. He never even touched the monk and when he actually go close enough to taste it he ended up tasting a leather sandle as the Goliath spartan-kicked him in the face. While Terios was being manhandled I noticed from across the way the elf had emerged sticking to the shadows, no longer was wearing the garb of a monk but 2 hand crossbows clipped at his waist and a pair of blades slung over his back. As Terios continued my attention came to the elf and his intentions. I knew he had come for me but what was he doing here. Terios completely frustrated pulled his great axe out of its scabbard and charged, and as before his attack was halted this time the goliath ripped his axe from his grasp and hurled it out of the arena. For the third time I could see Terios’ rage begin To bubble over but this time he centered himself read the mantra of Kord back in his mind halted his attack and focused on the words playing back in his head. As he sensed the rage dissipate the monk clapped and stepped out of the arena and disappeared out view.
As this was going on I noticed the elf had disappeared behind a pillar. And as I stepped out into the stone floor of the arena, we were met by the elf standing atop the 30 foot pillar, staring intently down at us.
As we stood in the moonlit night, I could see the siluette standing in the light of the moon. He called out that he had been waiting a long time for me to return. I asked why the Civilians wanted me dead, I posed them no real threat and I made them more then enough gold to repay what they had done, for me. As the elf chuckled he shouted. “Yes you have drawn more then enough blood for the Civilians, however we only ask you spill the blood of one more… YOURS”, as he drew his hand crossbow and fired it at me striking me in the shoulder.
aware of our less then ideal situation Terios and I spilt and took shelter under the pillars. Terios searched frantically for his axe as I dodged more of the elf’s crossbow bolts. The elf then moved into a position directly above me but missed again. Terios seeing my plight stopped his search and charged the stone pillar in an attempt to knock off the elf and bring him to our level. He crashed into the pillar with a loud thud, alas the structure did not move. Channeling my training I then ran at Terios and vaulted off his back jumping to the top of the stone pillars in front of the elf. Then followed it up with a round house kick to the face sending him plummeting to the ground. He landed feet first tossed his crossbows aside and drew the blades strapped to his back. He swung around and slashed at Terios cutting his shoulder. Terios whirled around and punched at the elf, afterwards he stepped back to search for his axe again. I jumped down and struck the assassin across the face grazing him. He raised his swords and brought them both down, slicing me across the midsection. As I felt the blood soak my armor I swiped at the elf as I fled behind the nearest pillar ducking into the shadows. The elf then stepped out into the center of the arena and poised for an attack. He then called out to me saying, “It is very fitting that I am going to kill you with the very techniques I’ve learned while awaiting your return. You should have stayed away.”
He then focused all his energy into a single forceful punch and out of the sky came a bolt of raging lightning and it struck me right through the chest.
When I awoke the smoking carcass of the elf lay strewn on the ground. Terios told me that he prayed to Kord and focused his energy and projected his charge into a ferocious blast of light and electricity. How much truth there was I do not know. Perhaps he was only trying to get me to convert to Kord’s ways. However there was something that happened that day and he has never been the same , from that moment on he was always relying on the strength of Kord and believed he was leading him in all he did. As for me, I made a promise that day that never again would a member of the Civilians get the drop on me. I took the assassins hand crossbow as a trophy that day, promising that If they wanted a war I’ be happy to oblige. and as reminder of that promise I wear the head of the bolt that pierced my chest around my neck.
As for our other endevours, maybe another time.